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Headlines for Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Laura Kelly Vetoes Bill to Limit Gubernatorial Emergency Powers 

TOPEKA, Kan. (Kansas Public Radio) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a bill today (TUE) that would have restricted her ability to respond to the coronavirus. But in vetoing the bill, it also means her emergency declaration ends at 11:59 p.m. today (TUE). So, she has issued another one…but the phased-in plan is now merely guidance for counties…not a statewide mandate. She also is calling the legislature in for a special session starting June 3. Republicans passed the legislation last week after criticizing Kelly for first closing many businesses in response to the virus and then not reopening them quickly enough. Kelly says their bill would have made significant, partisan changes to a law that’s been in effect for 45 years. Kansas has more than 92 hundred cases of COVID-19 and 188 deaths.

(– additional reporting –)

Kansas Governor Vetoes Limits on Her Power but Loosens Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s Democratic governor has vetoed a sweeping Republican coronavirus measure that would have curbed her power to direct the state’s pandemic response. But Gov. Laura Kelly also ceded to local officials the power to keep restrictions on businesses. Kelly not only killed a bill approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature last week but also issued a new state-of- emergency declaration to replace one set to expire Tuesday night. Kelly also is calling the Legislature back into special session on June 3 to extend the new state of emergency past June 10. Yet a top Republican declared victory because Kelly backed off statewide restrictions on businesses. 

Kansas Governor Vetoes Bill Limiting Her Emergency Powers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has vetoed a sweeping coronavirus bill that would have given the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature control over the state’s pandemic response. The Legislature approved the bill early Friday to limit Kelly’s emergency powers, including decisions on spending $1.25 billion in federal relief funds. Kelly vetoed the bill Tuesday. The bill also would have shielded businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Republicans believe the Democratic governor is moving too slowly to reopen the state’s economy and has too aggressively imposed restrictions. Democrats object to curbing Kelly’s power and shielding substandard nursing homes and manufacturers of defective personal protective equipment from liability.

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Torrential Rainfall Prompts Flood Warnings and Watches Across Parts of Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — Heavy rains have led to flooding across parts of Kansas.  The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for the Black Vermillion River at Frankfort affecting Marshall County, the Marais Des Cygnes River above Reading affecting Lyon and Osage counties and for Mill Creek Near Paxico affecting Wabaunsee County.  Get the latest weather for eastern Kansas from the NWS Office in Topeka

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Man Wounded in Shooting by 2 Kansas City, Kansas Police Officers

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, man was hospitalized after being shot by two police officers. Police say the confrontation occurred early Monday at an apartment complex.  Police spokeswoman Nancy Chartrand says the officers were patrolling when they spotted a car that had been stolen from Leavenworth. Police say a man got into the vehicle and drove toward one of the officers. Both officers fired their weapons. The suspect then reportedly ran into an apartment and officers were able to subdue him with a stun gun. He was taken to a hospital. His condition was not available.

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UPDATE: Kansas Health Officials Suggest Self-Quarantine for Those Who Traveled to Lake of the Ozarks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Dr. Lee Norman, the Kansas health director, is urging any Kansans who partied close to others at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks during the Memorial Day weekend to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days. Social media posts show large groups gathering in pools, bars and restaurants without social distancing or masks. Norman says their behavior could substantially set back the progress Kansas has made in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. He says self-quarantining for 14 days would protect the partiers' families, coworkers and neighbors. Kansas City and St. Louis officials are urging residents who were at the lake to self-quarantine.

(–earlier reporting–)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Kansas health officials are recommending a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone who traveled to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, over the Memorial Day weekend and did not use protective measures, such as social distancing and face masks.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) suggested the voluntary quarantines in a news release issued today (TUE).  Over the holiday weekend, large crowds were reported at the Lake of the Ozarks where protective practices were not being followed.  The state's health director, Dr. Lee Norman, said, "The reckless behavior displayed during this weekend risks setting our community back substantially for the progress we’ve already made in slowing the spread of COVID-19."  More information is available at the KDHE website

-related-

Missouri Health Director Warns Revelers: Virus is Still Here

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s health director has issued a dire warning after photos and video showed Memorial Day weekend revelers partying close together: The coronavirus is still here, and the spreading of illnesses could have “long-lasting and tragic” results. One video on social media shows a crammed pool at Lake of the Ozarks, with people lounging and playing close together, without masks. The lake draws people from as far away as Arkansas and Iowa. It’s especially popular with travelers from St. Louis city and county, which combined account for more than half of Missouri’s confirmed cases and more than two-thirds of the state's 685 deaths.

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Kansas Reports 9,200+ COVID-19 Cases, Including 188 Deaths 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — As of Monday, state health officials had reported 9,218 cases of COVID-19, including 188 deaths.  Cases have been reported in 88 of the state's 105 counties.  (Updated COVID-19 case numbers for Kansas are released Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.)  

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Johnson County Health Department Offers Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing on Friday

OLATHE, Kan. (KPR) – Residents of Johnson County, with or without symptoms of coronavirus, can get a free COVID-19 test on Friday, May 29, from 9 am to 2 pm, or until supplies run out.  The testing will take place at the College Boulevard Activity Center (11031 S. Valley Road) in Olathe.  The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) is offering the drive-thru testing clinic on a first-come, first-served basis. County residents must be at least 18-years-old and should bring a driver’s license.  Those who arrive for testing should remain in their vehicles with the windows rolled up until it’s time for their test. Testing involves using a swab to take a sample from inside the nose.  This is the department’s fifth community testing event.  More information is available at www.jocogov.org/coronavirus

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Marshall Fights to Be 'Doc' on Ballot for Kansas Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A leading candidate for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas wants to be listed as Roger “Doc” Marshall on the ballot. The secretary of state’s office has denied the western Kansas congressman's request, and a state board will decide whether “Doc” is an nifty nickname or a prohibited professional title. Marshall also is an obstetrician. Kansas law allows candidates to list nicknames on the ballot, and Marshall's campaign says that's what “Doc” is. But state law generally prohibits listing titles, and that's what the secretary of state's office sees “Doc” as. A state board will hear Marshall's appeal. 

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Suburban Kansas City Police Officer Shoots, Wounds Suspect

RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City police officer shot a suspect in an armed confrontation. The Kansas City Star reports that the latest officer-involved shooting happened around 5:30 pm Sunday, when Raytown police were called because of a disturbance involving a person who was possibly armed.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident, says arriving officers confronted a suspect, and moments later, an officer shot the suspect, who was taken to an area hospital for treatment. Police have not identified the suspect or the officer who fired. It's the second shooting of a suspect by a Raytown police officer in recent weeks.

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Police: Second Victim in Deadly Wichita Shooting Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a second victim in a deadly shooting in Wichita last week has died of his injuries. Police say 19-year-old Jahbreel Rounds died in a hospital Monday from injuries he received in a shooting last week that also killed 21-year-old Earnest Jefferson. Police have said the shooting stemmed from a botched drug deal. Two people, 20-year-old Missy Barber and 18-year-old Preston Reynolds, have been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the shootings. The shooting occurred at a Wichita apartment complex.  

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Wichita Officer Charged with Indecent Liberties with a Child

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police officer is charged with child sex crimes stemming from alleged incidents in 2012 before he was an officer. Wichita police announced Tuesday that Officer Joshua Hageman is charged with two counts of indecent liberties with a child. The department said the alleged crimes happened when Hageman was 20. He is accused of inappropriately touching two 15-year-old girls while at a home in Colwich. Police say Hagemen is on administrative leave without pay. He has been a Wichita officer for three years.

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Former WSU Student Sues over December Data Breach

WICHITA, Kan. (AP)  — A former Wichita State University student has filed a federal lawsuit against the school over a December data breach that exposed the personal information of thousands of current and former students. The Wichita Eagle reports that Michael Bahnmaier, of Wichita, filed the lawsuit earlier this month seeking class-action status. The lawsuit accuses WSU of negligence and of waiting too long to alert those whose personal information may have been stolen. University officials have said hackers targeted in early December a historical database where WSU kept the names, email addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers of students. It did not inform those whose information may have been stolen until March 6.

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In-Person or Online?  Wichita State Prepares for Fall Classes

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) — Wichita State University is preparing for the possibility that classes will have to move back online in the fall because of the coronavirus.  The university is relabeling all traditional, in-person classes as hybrid courses. Professors can still do all their teaching on campus, so long as students are kept six feet apart. But classifying courses as hybrids makes it easier to switch to online-only.  University Provost Rick Muma says it's possible all classes will finish online after Thanksgiving break.  "We do know the issue if we give breaks to students if they travel home, particularly back to a state that has a lot more cases, creates some problems," Muma said.  The University of Kansas and Kansas State University also plan on allowing some in-person classes on campus this fall.

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Kansas City's Smaller Colleges Could Benefit Amid Pandemic

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City’s smaller colleges and universities say their size could benefit them amid the coronavirus pandemic, unlike many other schools that have had to make cuts. KCUR Radio reports that several Missouri and Kansas colleges believe they could be an attractive option this fall for students who want to continue their education but need to save money or want to avoid overcrowded classrooms. College officials and administrators, however, worry the pandemic may have put college out of reach for low-income students. The Metropolitan Community College's chancellor expects students trying to save money to enroll at community colleges.

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Health Officials: Kansas Meatpacking Plants Safe Enough to Remain Open

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Coronavirus outbreaks in Kansas meatpacking plants have killed at least seven people and sickened about 2,400 others.  Amid the ongoing pandemic, state health officials stand by their stance that meatpacking plants are still safe enough to remain open.  Kansas Health Secretary Lee Norman says the state is satisfied, so far, with steps that meatpacking companies have taken to try to curb the spread of COVID-19 within their walls.  Some workers at the packing plants have told the Kansas News Service that they work too close to each other and that the facilities should close temporarily for deep cleaning.  Through last Friday, Kansas reported nearly 9,000 cases of COVID-19, though many of those infected have since recovered.

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Kansas City Police Paid $425,000 to Unarmed Man Shot by Officer 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Kansas City Police Department two years ago quietly paid $425,000 to an unarmed man who was shot in the face by an officer who initially faced criminal charges in the shooting. The Kansas City Star reported the payment Tuesday. The newspaper said it only recently learned of the 2018 settlement with Anthony Contreras after filing a records request through Missouri's Sunshine Law. Contreras was shot by Officer Jacob Ramsey in June 2014 after police say Contreras ran when officers tried to question him about an attempted robbery. Ramsey had said he thought Contreras was reaching for a gun when he fired. In 2015, a grand jury returned charges against Ramsey, but a prosecutor later dropped the charges. 

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U.S. Communities Face Tough Choices on Opening Public Pools

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Public pools in the U.S. will look very different this summer if they open at all with the coronavirus threat still looming. Among the changes pools are planning are putting their mostly teenage lifeguards in charge of maintaining social distancing among patrons and spotting COVID-19 symptoms. Dr. Justin Sempsrott, the medical director for the lifeguard certification program Starguard Elite, says pools also plan to screen patrons' temperatures, require lifeguards to wear masks and significantly reduce the number of swimmers allowed in the water and locker rooms. Industry groups and companies, meanwhile, report that sales of inflatable pools, swimming gear and kayaks are up.

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Lawsuit: Kansas Mayor Deleted Posts Panning Virus Response

SCOTT CITY, Kan. (AP) — A woman is claiming in a lawsuit that the mayor of a western Kansas town violated free speech rights by removing social media criticism of how the town has responded to the coronavirus. Tracy Chambless says in a lawsuit against Scott City and Mayor Everett Green that the mayor removed criticisms from his Facebook page and another local news page that he controlled. The lawsuit also alleges that the town has barred citizens from participating in City Council meetings since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Green has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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Philanthropist, Kansas State Supporter Donna Vanier Dies

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A well-known philanthropist and supporter of Kansas State University and several Salina organizations has died. The family of Donna Vanier said she died Saturday at the age of 85. The cause of death was not released. Vanier earned the Kansas State University Medal of Excellence, which recognizes those who provided exceptional service, leadership and philanthropic contributions to the university. She served on several boards and organizations at Kansas State and in Salina, where she led the creation of the Donna Vanier Children's Center. Vanier lived most of her adult life with her husband on the CK Ranch outside of Brookville.

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Blood Supplies in Kansas City Area Running Dangerously Low

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) – The Community Blood Center (CBC) of Greater Kansas City issued an urgent call for healthy blood donors as area hospitals began to resume normal operations.  Since then, the blood supply has continued to decrease and demand has skyrocketed.  Officials say the blood supply is now dangerously low.  Several Kansas City organizations have stepped up to host urgent blood drives in the coming week, including Union Station, Sprint Center, and Sporting Kansas City.  Donors are encouraged to make an appointment at a blood drive or donor center.

Upcoming Blood Drives

Sprint Center – May 27 & 28 | 10 am – 4 pm
Union Station – May 27 – 29 | 10 am – 4 pm
Sporting Kansas City – June 1 | 9 am – 3 pm
Hy-Vee Arena – June 1 | 9 am – 3 pm
 
In order to maintain a safe blood supply, a seven-day inventory of all blood types must be continually replenished. Right now, reserves are far below that minimum.  Health officials say  donating blood is safe and only takes one hour.  The Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City (CBC) serves hospitals in the Kansas City metropolitan area, as well as eastern Kansas and western Missouri.  More information is available at savealifenow.org/coronavirus.

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